Phalombe District Health Office says it has, in the past four months, been spending close to K10 million on vaccines on a monthly basis to treat people suspected to have been bitten by rabid dogs and cats.
However, the figure does not reflect well on the district’s monthly drug budget allocation which is around K25 million.
Phalombe Chief Clinical Officer, Chimwemwe Mthepheya, told Mana that for the past four months, health facilities in the district have been receiving an average of 100 people per month from specific areas of traditional authorities Chiwalo, Nazombe and Nkhulambe.
“This figure is overwhelming because administering anti-rabies vaccine to one client costs us K101, 666. 20, and if you make simple calculations, you’ll find that every month we are spending close to K10.1 million to save lives that have been endangered by pets,” Mthepheya pointed out.
According to the District Agriculture Development Officer for Phalombe, Jackson Mkombezi, the district has a population of 28, 000 cats and dogs combined, saying out of the figure only 5,000 were vaccinated during the last vaccination campaign.
“Due to constraints on funding last year, we targeted 16, 000 pets. However, after presenting our K3 million budget to Local Government Finance Committee, it was trimmed to K2 million which was not sufficient for the target,” Mkombezi said.
Mkombezi further said the main challenge in dealing with rabies is that there are too many abandoned dogs that spread the viral disease, hence the need for a massive dog vaccination followed by a shoot – out campaign to eliminate stray ones.
However, he observed that the vaccination campaign is the only lasting solution to the rabies problem but requires at least K6 million.
Meanwhile, District Commissioner for Phalombe, Gossam Mafuta has appealed to non–governmental organizations in the district to consider supporting the vaccination campaign to reduce the costs the health sector is incurring in treating rabies.
“It is evident that the district has a higher population of dogs that have not been vaccinated for rabies in the past years. The spread of rabies has been unprecedented in the past months,” Mafuta lamented.